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Old 01-06-2011, 04:50 AM   #1
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Exclamation Help! Tank Kept Under Strange Conditions... Don't know what to do...

Hello! I am new to this forum and new to salt water aquariums and really would appreciate some urgent advice. It's a long story so please bear with me...

I have never had salt water fish and recently adopted my dad's tank that has been kept under strange conditions.

My dad had a 6 gallon Nano tank with some live rock and one Ocelleris for about 4 years since it was tiny. When I adopted her in November, she was very healthy and has grown very big. However she has been kept under strange conditions and I am not sure how to take care of her now...

The fish has lived in virtual darkness and without water changes for about 3 years... The lid is broken off so my dad covers it with a piece of cardboard and sometimes glass. After the first year, a flat dark green algea covered all sides of the tank so you could never see inside unless you looked through the top. My dad also NEVER cleaned the aquarium or did any water changes. All he did was top it off with filtered tap water using his Britta water filter and some water conditioner for the chloramines.

When I got her, I bought a new 8 gallon tank with working lights and clean new sand. I transferred all the same water, live rocks, and bio balls into the new tank so that she wouldn't be too shocked with so many changes. And I am also assuming that what she had was working since it is obviously cycling. I kept her water temp the same at around 79 F. Then I tested the water:
Ammonia: Low (lowest on the chart, Yellow)
Ph: 7.8
Nitrite: Low
Nitrate SUPER HIGH, Deep Red color on chart (160+)
Salinity is perfect

So now I am super confused...

I don't know how to take care of her because... she's obviously doing fine in the environment (She swims around and eats very well)... but has lived in very bad conditions for almost her whole life. Since my dad never made water changes, the nitrates must have been high for a very long time and I am not sure how she survived this as I hear it is very bad to have 160+ in a tank.

So what should I do? Should I start doing regular water changes to make sure all the levels are where they should be? Or could that possibly shock her? Because I'm afraid of drastically changing an environment she is possibly used to, I am currently doing the same thing my dad did: no light and no water changes... just topping it off.

I could really use some advice here. I want her to have a good life with me.

Any advice is much appreciated! Thanks for reading this whole thing and Happy New Year.
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Old 01-06-2011, 08:22 AM   #2
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There should be no ammonia or nitrite in the tank. Maybe you got some because you stirred up everything when you changed tanks. Read up on cylcing a SW tank and understand those dynamics. Check our articles section for starters.

I'd like the see the nitrates get to at least 20ppm or lower, but it won't happen overnight. Feeding, bio-balls, and the lack of water changes likely have the nitrates so high. Tell us what and how often you feed for one. Secondly, consider removing bio-balls over a period of a few weeks and replacing them with rock rubble. Lastly, get a suitable container (new, with no metal in contact with the water) and mix up some fresh sw. I'm thinking you mix up enuf as and when needed to accomplish 20% water changes weekly over the next 3-4 weeks. Mix and aerate it for maybe 24hours before using it.

What is "perfect salinity" by the way?? 1.025 is fine I believe. Consider buying a refractometer for measuring that. If you need to adjust your current salinity level after all, do it VERY slowly. Maybe .01 a day.

Oops. My manners....

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Old 01-06-2011, 10:17 AM   #3
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quite a sad story. i'm glad you took over responsibility.
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Old 01-06-2011, 12:27 PM   #4
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yep, love to see this clown of yours! welcome!
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Old 01-06-2011, 12:36 PM   #5
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welcome to AA..
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Old 01-06-2011, 04:21 PM   #6
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If possible try doing a 20% partial water change every day with SW mix made the day before. That will help to get the tank water parameters where they should be.
In the absence of a RODI (reverse osmosis/deionized) filter system, consider buying RO water at WalMart of the grocery store for now to mix the salt with. That is unless you are buying salt water from the lfs.

Also, if you don't already have them, get some quality liquid test kits for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and pH. A refractometer is a must have for checking salinity (SG).

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Old 01-08-2011, 04:59 PM   #7
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Welcome to aquarium advice!:smi lecolros:!!!!!!
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Old 01-19-2011, 05:29 PM   #8
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Thanks everyone for all your advice and thank you also for the warm welcome!!! So glad I found you guys. I was out of town before... but I am back and started doing 20% water changes every 4 days. I've done it twice now and Lucky seems to be doing OK. Nitrates aren't really going down. *crossing fingers*
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Old 01-19-2011, 08:36 PM   #9
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Does anyone think turning on the lights to let algae grow, to help with the nitrates, would be good?

I am not sure if it would be good, just a thought.
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Old 01-19-2011, 09:18 PM   #10
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no. letting "nuisance" algae grow to help better parameters is a BAD idea. it's called nuisance algae for a reason.
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